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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Donagh Corby

Khabib warned to "stop playing games" after making Charles Oliveira prediction

UFC lightweight title contender Beneil Dariush was surprised to be dragged into the strange mind games being played by former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov with Charles Oliveira.

The Brazilian is due to face Nurmagomedov's teammate Islam Makhachev in the main event of UFC 280 this month, with the vacant belt on the line after he was stripped due to missing weight ahead of his last defence. However, Nurmagomedov believes that Oliveira won't show up to the fight, and theorised that Dariush will replace him for the title fight in Abu Dhabi.

Dariush has been out of action with serious injuries for well over a year, but will return on the same card against Mateusz Gamrot and likely is being viewed as the back-up if the main event falls out. But he doesn't want to hear about it from the former champion, and told him to quit involving him in whatever games that are being played with Oliveira.

"I think these guys have been in this too long because everyone is playing games," Dariush told Helen Yee. "Sometimes you've just got to chill out. The fight's happening, relax, take your time and let it play out the way it's supposed to - let's stop with these games.

"Charles goes out there and dies every time that he fights. He's like 'kill or be killed', why insult the champion? I don't know what that was about and I think Charles will be there. But if not, maybe they know something I don't know. I haven't heard anything."

Makhachev is often compared with his pal Nurmagomedov, but as yet hasn't had the chance to prove himself against the top competition at lightweight. Now, he gets his opportunity at the gold in Abu Dhabi, where he will have something of a home advantage given the fan support for him in the region.

Retired UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will be cornering Islam Makhachev (REUTERS)

Will Islam Makhachev defeat Charles Oliveira at UFC 280? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

"Maybe skillset wise they have similar skills," Dariush said of comparisons between the teammates. "Great grappling, they use a lot of defensive striking. It's weird where Khabib does this thing with his striking where he looks really wild but everything he does wild is all a mirage to set up his takedowns.

"On the other hand, Islam has very safe striking and that's how he sets up his takedowns. They both use their striking for the same purpose, to get the takedown, but one of them goes wild and the other is very reserved. It's just a personality thing, what your personality is and it reflects in your fights."

Dariush was set to face Makhachev back in February, but the fight fell through due to injury and he now has to regain his spot as one of the top five in the division. He faces a tough test in the No.9-ranked former KSW champion Gamrot, whose sole career loss was a contentious split decision from which he has bounced back with four wins including three stoppages.

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